Friday, October 26, 2012

Rockz Solid

The first thing you notice about Rockz Solid is her energy. From the second she walked in The Spot, where we conducted the interview during a recent show, she was shaking hands and bouncing around the room, greeting other acts and old friends. And all the love she showed was shown back to her.

The 27-year old mother of two boys, age 7 and 8, knows all about energy trying to juggle two sons, the real world job, and her music career. Rockz Solid, whose real name is Raquel Alman, handles it with the strength her stage name conveys.

I hear MC Lyte and Eve in her flow, that subtle mix of gruff and sexy, and she pulls it off flawlessly on songs like “Bring That Beat Back”. She is a student and teacher of old school hip-hop.

Class is in session.

When did you first fall in love with music?

With music, I would have to say it was like at the age 12. It was more lyrics than music that I fell in love with. Poetry, writing and then I learned to incorporate the music into it when I was like 14 or 15.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Lauryn Hill is a lot, but also Ra Digga. I really love Ra Digga, Canibus, and lot of old school hip-hop related people.

Describe your music?

My music is just authentic. There is really no description of it. I am always labeled different things; you know what I am sayin’? But I like to keep the original culture of hip-hop embedded in everything that I do as well as keep the element alive. Like my song “Bring That Beat Back”; that is pretty old school. I feel I have an old school soul even though I am still younger.

What do you want people to hear in your music?

In my music I think I want them to hear something they can relate to; something they can check themselves on, ya know what I mean? Like if I am writing a song that has a message in it, I would like them to be able to take the message, receive it and check themselves with it. How they are acting in their own life and are able to relate it in everyday life.

You are making a mix tape of your all-time favorite songs. What is the first song on it and why?

The first song on it would be Selena. “Como La Flor”. As far as Selena goes, I love the sweetness of the way she is. When she sings the song, you can hear so much passion in it. I could really just say ANY Selena song, but that is the one that I love the most.

Best performance you ever gave?

It was our album release party at the Rooftop Garden. It was just on another planet. We were on the rooftop Garden. The whole vibe; the whole atmosphere. There were only 50 people that we had there, so it was a small, eclectic crowd and there was a lot of love reciprocated. They gave it, and we gave it. There was a good vibe given that night.

Worst performance you ever gave?

I would have to say at the Miramar Theater when I first started out rocking open mics and trying to get familiar with myself on stage and stage presence. Just not a lot of good performances there.

What are some of the good things about the music scene in your area?

That is going to be a minute for me to think about. I guess I will go negative to a positive. The bad thing is the city is cliqued off but the good thing about that is the cliques are strong. So the people you can trust and depend on you can REALLY trust and depend on.

What are some of the things that need to be improved?

Everybody has this whole ‘support artists’ thing, but some people, and I am sorry for this, just shouldn’t be artists, or shouldn’t be rappers or shouldn’t even be in that lane. You can’t just say support everybody because we want to unify our city, because that’s not fair. Dude, you suck, you know what I am sayin’? I am just keeping it real. You can’t do that. Our city needs to ALL IN support someone good; better than half-way support the whole city.

Is that where Recall Wack Rappers came from?

Well, Brew-Fresh supports that movement, but that was not our movement. I think it was more of a movement of asking the good rappers to step it up, and asking the bad artists to step it up.

What is one song that describes your life?

“Baby Girl” by Sugarland. I really like country. It reminds me of my dad, who is from Texas. The song basically talks about your parents helping you make it and helping you invest and in the end, you turn around and give back to them.

One artist, alive or dead, you would want to be a song with?

I would have to say Common. I really, really respect his artistry. I think he is a Man-God. He is like God on earth. (As she smiles and apologizes to her boyfriend standing nearby). I mean lyrically the man is brilliant. He is amazing.

What was your first concert?

The first one I can really remember was the Up In Smoke Tour.

You have a love for the word “Dope”. Why is that?

Honestly, people talk a lot of shit, because I am always saying everything is dope. But to me, dope is the epitome of good. Its means something is raw. You can’t just say ‘that was nice’, if you say dope, it just holds a lot more weight.

Talk about “The Naked Truth” album.

That was an album I did with my partner Annie Mae. It was the first album we did together, and the first I really invested my time and energy into. I had two mix tapes before that, but I don’t think I put as much time and energy into it as I did the Naked Truth. It was produced only by Krazy Beatz, the Brew Fresh Records producer. I think we tried to hit a lot of conscious topics. It was a lot of deep concepts that I think people either appreciated it, or they just didn’t get it.

What gives you the confidence to step up in a male dominated genre like hip-hop?

I was always raised around a lot of guys, so I never really looked at life as female/male. My brother washed dishes just like I did. And I took out the garbage just like he did. I never felt that there was a barrier; like I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. And I had a lot of influence from my mom. My dad was in my life; I am not going to say he wasn’t there. My mom showed me a lot of ‘you do whatever the f**k you want to do’. If have to work three jobs to make a living, that is what you will do. I never felt there was any reason I couldn’t do this.

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